(2 Corinthians 12:11-15)
One of the great things we see in Paul was that he chose to make the gospel free to all those to whom he preached. He did not put any burdens upon any of the early churches because he did not want to burden them in any way. His aim always was to ensure there was no cost associated with preaching the gospel so that no-one could accuse him of feathering his own nest or lining his own pockets.
Clearly this was not the case with some of the other teachers and preachers of Paul’s day. He specifically refers in this section to some “superlative” apostles or, in some translations, “super” apostles who were going into the churches and preaching for profit.
And as much as I hate to say it, how many of the churches today, especially the big televangelist organisations, are doing the very thing Paul was preaching against? Too many!
What are we told is one of the most important things about discipling the church? It is spreading the gospel of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We are told in the Great Commission to “…go out and make disciples…” This is fundamental to spreading the word. Jesus wants His people to share the Good News of salvation and hope to ALL people in the hope that they will repent and come to Christ.
But we must understand that the purpose of this is that the spreading of the gospel to all people is for the benefit of the people. It is so that they may have hope and not the fear of death and destruction.
Is this what the marketing efforts in the church today is focused on, or is their focus on their own desires?
I hate to say it, but I am disappointed by the level of marketing that goes on in the church today, not for the purpose of spreading the gospel, but for the purpose of turning a quick dollar.
How does selling music CD’s, bumper stickers, bracelets, T-shirts and all of the other paraphernalia help anyone but the coffers of the church doing it? How do such things “make disciples” as instructed in the Great Commission, especially when the target for such marketing are the people already in the church. How does so-called Christian marketing advance the truth of the gospel in the church community?
It doesn’t. It is a grab for money. While I will concede there may be some benefits in selling and promoting books that help people understand parts of the gospel, many books do not even do that. An example of the recent craze for adult colouring books sees the production and sale of Christian colouring books on some sites. Does this benefit the person in any spiritual way or do they become a source of pride?
Those who do such things, using Jesus Christ as a marketing tool and a way to make a buck have fallen into a trap. Consider what the Bible says:
3 If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
The Bible tells us that those who displace the words of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with marketing have gone astray. They are doing what this verse warns against. They have imagined that “…godliness is a means of gain.” And by gain, Paul is referring to financial gain or power.
But in getting there we see also in the verse quoted that they have fallen into all kinds of wrongdoing and wrong-thinking.
And this is where the modern marketing of the church for financial gain sits. This is the work of many of the modern “super” apostles. Many that I have seen spend more time promoting their products in their TV shows than preaching the word. Some are that bad they should be classified as infomercials!
A Free Gospel
This is not what Paul did and this is not an acceptable practice.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no qualms or problems with a minister earning his income from preaching the gospel. That is permitted in the gospel itself.
What irks me is when pastors in the church use the word to make themselves rich at the expense of the church. When they fleece the flock of the Lord for personal wealth and gain. That is not scriptural and is not acceptable.
The early apostles received their needs through the donations and support of the church. They did not get rich though.
Paul were the exceptions as they chose to make the gospel free so that there would be no hindrance, no stumbling block preventing anyone from finding Jesus.
What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
This was Paul’s reward: to make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of his right to receive an income under the gospel. His was a noble position to take, and no-one could say they were excluded because they could not afford his prices.
Consider Jesus who also walked the roads of Judea and Galilee. Jesus also did not make a fortune in His preaching, and if ever anyone could have, it was Jesus. Consider the miracles He performed, the sick he healed, the demons he cast out. Did He ever receive any financial compensation for His work? No! Not once. And He preached the Good News of the gospel of salvation and freedom to anyone prepared to listen, without cost.
And all Jesus owned when He died for our sins was the clothes on His back, which were divided between the soldiers and by the casting of lots.
When people learn that the keys to the kingdom of heaven cannot be bought with money, and in fact that too much money is a curse, not a blessing, then they will seek the truth. When pastors preach that unless you are making lots of money, God is not blessing you, they have missed the mark entirely. And they should know because the scripture says so in many places, the most well known of which is:
For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
What does this scripture say? It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evils. More importantly for the church though, is the second part of the verse that says many who follow this passion of the flesh have wandered away from the faith. And many today teach this passion as if it is a good thing!
Paul chose to make the gospel free. His was a humility and an understanding of this issue with money. And he was greatly blessed by the Lord and in his work as he preached free of charge.
So I recommend you beware of anyone who is charging exorbitant fees to preach the gospel. Have they been caught in the love of money trap? The gospel is freely available to anyone, as are all the blessings of God. All you need do is study your Bible and seek the Lord in prayer.
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